Android iPhone and iPad

How to Play YouTube Videos in the Background, and Even with the Screen Off

Sherwin Coelho 17-02-2017

YouTube is a treasure trove of content. The only drawback with its default Android and iOS apps is that you can’t continue audio playback after you turn off your screen like you could with a music or podcast app. Thankfully, there are a few lesser-known ways to do this without rooting your device What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More or spending a penny!

Even though we recently wrote about video sites that are better than YouTube 10 Video Sites That Are Better Than YouTube Here are some great alternative video sites to YouTube, although the "better than" is obviously open to debate. Read More , it’s no secret that when it comes to sheer volume of content, YouTube is the leader of internet videos. All other services pale in comparison.

Some of this content — e.g., songs, lectures, or even motivational TED Talks 10 Motivational TED Talks To Help You Chip Away At Your Mental Blocks The valuable lesson from the lives of achievers is that they chip away at their mental blocks more consistently than others. Ten TED Talks underscore one simple thing – it’s all in the mind. Read More  — is great to listen to offline. That’s because you don’t really miss much if you don’t watch the accompanying video. This is a fantastic way to keep yourself entertained when commuting or working out.

Thankfully, with these apps, you can keep listening even with your screen off.

Free Options

Don’t want to spend a dime? Try out these free methods of playing YouTube with the screen off.

For Android: Firefox Browser

Though most Android users probably use Google Chrome, Firefox is a solid alternative if you want to play YouTube videos in the background. You could either switch over to Firefox entirely for web browsing or just use it as a dedicated YouTube browser.

How to Play YouTube Videos in the Background, and Even with the Screen Off Listen To YouTube Background iOS

Open the Firefox app and search for YouTube (or just go to, then search for a video you want to listen to. When the video starts playing, simply turn off your screen to continue listening to it like a podcast or audiobook.

It’s easy to create Watch Later playlists within the default YouTube app, then go to Firefox and login to your YouTube account to play those videos in succession.

Download: Firefox for Android (Free)

For iPhone or iPad: Safari

Unfortunately, the Firefox app on iOS doesn’t replicate the same audio playback feature that its Android counterpart does. Thankfully, Apple’s built-in browser, Safari, does have this functionality. The method is slightly different than what you do in Firefox for Android.

How to Play YouTube Videos in the Background, and Even with the Screen Off Listen To YouTube Background Android

Open Safari and go to the YouTube website. Ensure that Safari doesn’t direct you to the YouTube app, which it might. When you’re on YouTube website, search for and play the video you want to listen to with your screen off.

Now turn off your screen. Your video will stop playing, but don’t worry! Just press the Home button to display your Control Center, and you’ll see options to play the video and control its volume and playback. Press the Play button, the audio will continue playing, and you can now turn off your screen to continue listening to it.

The Paid Option

Willing to shell out a few bucks? This is the easiest and most reliable method.

YouTube Red

If you live in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, or Mexico, then you can subscribe to YouTube’s YouTube Red service for $9.99 a month. Apart from an ad-free experience, this also gives you the option to listen to videos with your screen off and even download videos to watch later.

If you’ve subscribed to Google Play Music The Best Music Player on Android: Google Play Music Reviewed Google Play Music is a music streaming service, a local music player, and a podcast player all mashed into one. And it's great. Read More , then you get YouTube Red for free (and likewise, if you sign up for YouTube Red, you get a free Play Music subscription). If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, this might be your best option, since a Spotify subscription alone is $10/month as well, and that doesn’t include ad-free YouTube.

We’ve written about YouTube Red and what you should consider Is YouTube Premium Worth the Cost? 7 Things You Need to Consider Is YouTube Premium's cost worth it? We look into the pros and cons of YouTube's paid version. Read More before deciding whether or not to sign up. Opinions are mixed on the service (some folks think it could be bad for the YouTube community 4 Reasons YouTube Red Is Bad for the YouTube Community Google just announced YouTube Red. YouTube is a different kind of service with a big community. So, is YouTube Red good or bad for the video site in the long term? Read More ), but it’s definitely a slick way of listening to YouTube videos in the background.

Sign up: YouTube Red ($10/month)

Download for Android: YouTube (Free)

Download for iPhone or iPad: YouTube (Free)

Other Alternatives

The other two methods are best done on your PC before transferring the file to your device. One method involves converting YouTube videos into an MP3 file for offline listening How to Convert YouTube Videos to MP3 for Offline Listening Here's how you can turn any music YouTube video into an MP3 and save yourself from unnecessary bandwidth waste. Read More . You can also use one of the services mentioned here to download YouTube videos The 5 Best Tools to Download Streaming Video From Any Website If you want to download videos from websites using online tools and programs, we've rounded up the best to get the job done quickly. Read More  and enjoy them at your convenience.

Watch Out for Your Data

Regardless of which app you use, playing YouTube videos in the background will eat into your mobile data so – unless you have a generous data package – use this feature frugally or when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. A smart idea is to start playing the video on a Wi-Fi network, then wait for it to buffer for a few minutes before heading out. This can save you valuable data.

Which of These Works Best?

Google tends to crack down on third-party YouTube apps that enhance its functionality. For example, a brilliant app called FlyTube used to let you watch YouTube videos How to Watch YouTube on Top of Other Apps on Android Wouldn't it be nice if you could watch YouTube videos on Android while doing something else like browsing the web or jotting down notes? With this app, you can! Read More  as a floating window while browsing other apps, but Google eventually took it down.

Similarly, an iOS app called Songstream let you listen to YouTube videos in the background How to Listen to YouTube Playlists in the Background on Your iPhone Normally if you want to listen to YouTube in the background on a phone, you need to pay for YouTube Red. But there's a workaround that you might find useful. Read More , but that feature doesn’t work anymore. It might be reinstated with a future update, but don’t count on that happening.

At present, these are the only reliable ways of enjoying YouTube’s content in the background or with your screen off.

Do you know any other ways to replicate this feature? What YouTube content do you like to listen to offline? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally written by Erez Zukerman on January 2nd, 2014.

Related topics: Online Video, Streaming Music, YouTube.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Michael Duer
    April 14, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    I've paid for YouTube for over a year now, and it usually works ok(there always seems to be one perk that isn't working at any given time), but background play will just not work when the screen goes off! I'm using a Note 9.
    If that does works, then the Autoplay doesn't work, and on & on & on & on & on we go.... none of the troubleshooting options work, and I just have to wait for it to decide to work again. It's really annoying because I listen while riding my motorcycle often, which means I can't just grab my phone and switch to something else every time it decides not to work. It's very hit & miss, and definitely not worth the money I pay for it.
    It's April 2019 now, and I see comments from YEARS ago explaining the same problems. How has this happened for years, and it still just isn't reliable?? Especially the amount of money they're risking by not addressing the issue?? Crazy

  2. Ashish
    January 19, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    The stock version of YouTube in android gingerbread would play with the screen off. I used to do it in my Galaxy Pop.

  3. Harry Fear
    January 19, 2018 at 10:23 am

    I don't like the iOS Safari option, instead I use two free iOS apps:



    November 10, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Or you can just set your screen to go to sleep after 15 or 30 seconds. Stuff still plays but screen dims. Set your phone to sleep after a long delay.

  5. Bradley Singer
    October 29, 2017 at 6:46 am

    For iPhone: Use the app "Tubex" (it's free!).
    Tubex is a YouTube app that allows you to play just the audio of a video (without loading the video part) and lets you play audio with full controls with the phone locked. You can play your YouTube music playlist just like an iPod.

  6. Matt
    October 5, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    None of these work anymore, probably. What you're going to want to do is force Youtube to display in desktop mode, either by going into the settings on Chrome or Firefox and pressing "request desktop site" or by actually going to the preferences on the Youtube mobile site itself and choosing the desktop site. It'll be less navigable but when you turn off the screen, you can resume the video from the tab on your lock screen.

    There might still be some apps that will let you play Youtube in the background or in a floating window, but it seems that Google is forcing app developers to disable background play in browsers, and might be going after 3rd party apps that allow you to turn off the screen. It's completely absurd, considering that Youtube Red, TWO YEARS after it launched, is still limited to the FIVE countries in the article - not that paying for the ability to turn off your screen isn't even more absurd.

  7. Vishal
    September 6, 2017 at 2:06 am

    Yes but firefox not playing background in youtube vedios ?

  8. Ann
    August 22, 2017 at 2:47 am

    I use youtube red and love to listen to my Playlist running in background while playing games. I can turn off screen also. For some reason it'll just shut off for no reason even in middle of song. Idk y.

  9. nicolai
    August 17, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Firefox no longer seems to pay YouTube if you hide the window in any way... Sad!

  10. Mladen
    June 17, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Just download OG YouTube it's Android only

  11. Alin
    June 17, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Check out "Suamp - Media player" on google play. It's a great app for running youtube videos in background.

  12. Ricardo Dee
    February 21, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Regarding Firefox for Android, you can have extra data savings by making sure that VP9 support is enabled by checking out

    In case it isn't enabled, you can force enable it via about:config

    Caution though that the device should have adequate hardware acceleration support for the mentioned codec else battery life might suffer. In such case where VP9 hardware acceleration is missing, it's up to the individual if the data savings is worth the battery impact.

  13. Hillel Danziger
    February 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I've been using an app called "Radio Youtube". It works flawlessly, even when the screen is off. Just wondering, though: I don't see it on Google Play any longer. Does that suggest that it poses some security risk? Or that it's name has changed? Or maybe it's because it competes with YouTube Red ...

  14. Anonymous
    February 20, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Step 1: download and install amazon underground app from google play store or itunes

    Step2: Login to your amazon account

    Step 3: Search for and install the Firetube app

    Step 4: Hey Presto! you can now play youtube videos in the background! I have not tried this on marshmallow but certainly works on a rooted phone with Lollipop, i believe it also works on unrooted phones but I couldnt say for sure as my phone was already rooted when I used this workaround! I have not yet figured out how to import youtube playlists as I dont know whether I am supposed to use my username or channel ID (which either of I dont know anyway) or whether I am supposed to enter each individual playlist from each individual channel or user?
    good luck to anyone who wants to have a dog and find out how to do this?I'd value feedback thanks ;-)

    • Anonymous
      February 20, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      sorry I meant dig not dog lol!

  15. Anonymous
    September 24, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Great article. However, since you can't play videos in the background anymore I'm going to suggest an app that allows you to turn off the screen while the youtube stock app keeps playing. Since I usually play youtube playlists or dj sets with my headphones, it works great. It won't let you switch apps, though...

    It's called "Black Screen of Life". Try searching for it on YouTube (when you search it in google play it doesn't show up unless you put apostrophes).

  16. jj
    February 15, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    get a Samsung s4 then you can turn the screen off or use any other app they have multi window otherwise what your phone interview xposed framework with multi window

  17. Michael
    February 15, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Erez. This was a very good article. However, I just went to the Playstore to download it and discovered that the developer had been warned that they were in violation of YouTube policy by allowing YouTube videos to play in the background. This is unfortunate - for both YouTube as well as the developer as this was the main reason I wanted the app.The other features may be nice to have assuming I hhappen upon a need for them. I deliberately try to avoid using YouTube specifically because they have made it so that they force you to have their screen up to hear a video. Needless to say my deliberate avoidance of YouTube will continue. If you know of another app that still does give this functionality please let me know here.

    When will Google and others realize that deliberately trying to force people to bend to their will is counterproductive and only makes them like Apple?

    • M C
      April 17, 2015 at 1:29 am

      Try to find an older apk, I'm still using an older build from last summer with no problems.

  18. Gi
    April 4, 2014 at 8:11 am

    They are based in Egypt, Cairo. Not sure that should make a difference. The developer website is arabic and english. there's a Qu'arran app as well. I'm look for American based app. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  19. Haley Q
    January 3, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Now I can listen to my favourite artists on youtube without watching the video. (:

  20. M B
    January 3, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Too complicated control. Even pausing the video is complicated.

    Religion should be removed from the app. If developers like Islam, they should create a separate app for this like Viral Islamic. In the standard app there should be no religion.


    • Erez Z
      January 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm


      Pausing is just a single tap... But what's more interesting to me is where did you see anything about religion? I went over the entire app for this review and nothing jumped at me...

    • Tom W
      January 4, 2014 at 1:24 am

      @Erez The first image under the "A Quick Tour" heading shows "Islamic" as the first option. I assumed that was a custom category.

    • Tom W
      January 4, 2014 at 1:29 am

      This app would be perfect for me because it addresses some of the issues I have with the Youtube app, but I have occasionally found some videos mission from my Subscriptions list, and I don't think the Youtube API will fair any better. At the moment, I'm using the RSS feed of my Subscriptions, which seems to be a lot more accurate. It also has the advantage that videos that are slow to be added to the feed will still show up as new items in the RSS feed, whereas in the Subscriptions list I can't display only unwatched videos.

    • Erez Z
      January 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      @Tom W: Re Islamic -- I'm not sure that's the case. I figured it was a regional thing actually, because I'm based in Israel, so I was not surprised to see an Islamic category pop up...

  21. Sorinu
    January 2, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    For listening to music from YouTube, PV Star is the best app.

  22. Lee
    January 2, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I didn't know about this app and it always annoyed me that I couldn't read an incoming text without pausing the video. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Erez Z
      January 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Sure thing, Lee! :)

  23. Swaminathan V
    January 2, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks to the author for introducing this app. Definitely going to try this out as the default youtube app has become annoying these days.

    A small rant (sorry): Though I usually buy the paid versions of the apps I like, I don't believe using the free ad-version of the app means we are not paying the developer. I agree it might not be same as directly buying the paid version, but still.

    • Erez Z
      January 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      That's partly true. If nobody used ad blockers, and ad networks actually paid well, yes, this would be true. But as it stands, many users use custom ROMs or ad-blocking apps, and the ad networks make it quite difficult to make a living as a developer supported mostly by ads. So... "almost free" perhaps. :)